Hawk Eye

Cheer up, Rafa!

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Dear Rafa,

Forget whatever’s been said about you since you lost to a low-lying Belgian in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday. In fact, to describe him as “low-lying” is to state the obvious. After all, aren’t all Belgians low-lying?

Yeah, so you lost. Big deal! Thanks for putting it succinctly and giving me a quote which I can use (I tried hard to put your defeat in perspective but failed). "It's not a tragedy, it is sport." Touché!

Even Steve Darcis (how do you pronounce his name? Darsis, Darceeh or Darcees?) would not say he could have beaten you if you had played your best. And why didn’t you? Blame the organisers!

First of all, in a decision which irked all Murray supporters on the England-Scotland border, you were seeded fifth. They were all afraid of playing you.

And c’mon! Couldn’t anyone see that by not playing a single tournament after your French Open triumph, you were leaving it to the All-England Club’s good judgement to defy the stupid mechanism of ATP rankings and grant you a seed befitting of your stature as a grass court legend?

Here was a chance to prefix the top position to your name and bring to light the misleading ranking system of the world tennis governing body. For a man who plays his best tennis whenever his knee allows him to, you had certainly earned the right to be named the top seed. You do have two knees, albeit slightly weak ones.

Unfortunately, the traditionalists didn’t seem to agree with this view and gave you the fifth seed. In fact, they didn’t just disagree but threw the idea over the retractable roof of the Centre Court. If only it had stopped in midflight and the audience inside the hallowed arena could be informed of such path-breaking reasoning! Alas, it was not to be…

Then, who can forget the conspiracy to draw you against Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. The fallen king is looking to defend his territory again this year, a plot which is more familiar to Game of Thrones viewers than a Grand Slam audience. But it was laughable, right? You’ve lorded over the king so many times; it would’ve hurt you to hurt him again.

The potential to further damage the Swiss’ confidence engendered pity in you and empowered the seeds of your downfall sown below the verdant courts at SW 19. But you stood firm and decided to lose in the round of 16. Alas, it was not to be (again)…

Then arrived the final thrust of the knife which made you wince and ask, “Et tu Murray?” Yes, it was certain Federer would be granted an opportunity to do his meek ballerina act on the Centre Court lawns in the opening round due to his last year’s “lucky” win. The British press certainly still believes the Swiss was “lucky.” After all, he faced a player who has been tossed over the England-Scotland border numerous times depending on his performance.

But Murray? He could have certainly been scheduled to play on Court One. You, a two-time champion at Wimbledon, were shunted to the unglamorous environs to please a public desperate to witness success by any player with an Anglicised name. Adoption will follow immediately.

The organisers might as well have made you play on a beach in Mallorca. At least, it would’ve resembled clay. Anyhow, the insulted you decided to not produce your best tennis and what a wonderful protest it was. Albeit it was stretched a bit too far, but it will not affect your reputation as a tennis player. You shall forever be known, Rafael Wobbly Knees Nadal.

Yes, the defeat hurts. Not as much as the maltreatment handed out to you by the snooty British, though. This defeat will give you time to rest your knee and massage your hurt ego. I know you will be back. After all, that’s what you are known for— to excel on return and not when it seems all too easy.

But really, Rafa, how did you lose?

Baffled yet Boisterous,

Your fan

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 3:04:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/blogs/blog-hawk-eye/article4852775.ece

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